Who We Are
To provide emotional support, educational resources and advocacy for individuals and families affected by mental illness and to fight the negative stigma associated with mental illness in our community.
Scope of Services
Our supportive and educational programs and services focus on serious mental health disorders including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression), major depression, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, severe anxiety disorder and co-occurring brain disorders and substance abuse disorders. Emotional support services are offered to individuals and families in peer-led group or individual settings. Educational services are led by either trained peers or expert mental health or allied professionals and are designed to help participants understand mental health disorders, how they impact the individual and family, and how to cope with that impact so that the entire family can find a path to recovery.
Our Advocacy program focuses on improving mental health services in our county by collaborating with other community stakeholders to positively impact the availability and quality of services. Additionally, we serve as a community resource to help the larger community develop a better understanding of mental health disorders and combat the negative stigma that the larger community sometimes associates with mental health disorders.
- Mental health disorders are neurobiological disorders, which need to be treated and have similar response to treatment as any other physical disorder.
- People living with mental health disorders have a right to the same level of treatment as people living with other physical diseases.
- Individuals and their families have the right to be treated with dignity and respect, free from discrimination or stigma.
- Diverse cultures must be respected and represented.
- Mental health disorders are “no-fault” – not caused by individuals or families, and cannot be overcome by just “trying harder”.
- Recovery is possible for affected individuals and their family. That doesn’t usually mean “cure” but rather the ability to regain a life which is worth living including pursuit of social relationships, vocational/educational pursuits, and self-determination.
The NAMI/MWC Relationship
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, Southern Santa Barbara County (NAMI SSBCO) has a long history in our community having been founded in the early 1980s by a group of family members of persons living with mental health disorders, many of whom were associated with the Mental Wellness Center (MWC). MWC has a Santa Barbara history going back to the 1940s (first known as the Mental Hygiene Society, later as The Mental Health Association in Santa Barbara County and since 2011 as The Mental Wellness Center.
For most of its history, NAMI SSBCO has operated as a program under MWC’s 501c3 non-profit status, relying on MWC to provide NAMI’s business office, meeting space, staff and financial support as needed to implement NAMI SSBCO programs. In 2016, NAMI’s national headquarters began requiring all local affiliates to operate independently so our affiliate secured its own non-profit status, but continues to operate with MWC providing the same space, staff, program and financial supports.
Over the years, the relationship between these two important local organizations has been and continues to be very synergistic and greatly benefits both agencies and, more importantly, the people of the greater Santa Barbara Community. NAMI receives the logistical and financial benefits of this partnership while MWC benefits by having many NAMI members reinforce its strength providing advocacy, volunteers and potential MWC board members and volunteers. MWC also benefits by having a broader array of family services like NAMI’s signature Family to Family education program, support groups etc.
It is important to also note that, NAMI and MWC continue to engage in joint fundraising activities which benefit both agencies in proportion to their financial needs. Donations to either organization benefits both and fundraising costs and labor are reduced.
Board & Staff
President. George has been an active member of NAMI Southern Santa Barbara County (NAMI SSBCO) since 1999. He is a retired pharmaceutical marketing manager.
Vice President. Ann is a founding member of NAMI SSBCO and served for more than 30 years as president. She is a retired psychiatric nurse.
Secretary. Jan has been a member and volunteer of NAMI SSBCO since 1984. She is a retired healthcare public relations manager.
Treasurer. Anne joined NAMI in 2006 and also serves as a volunteer Educational Program Coordinator. Anne is also a registered nurse.
Lynne is a member and volunteer with NAMI SSBCO and also serves as Chair of the NAMI- Mental Wellness Center Public Policy Committee.
Mike Gorodezky, PhD
Mike has been a member of NAMI SSBCO since 2014. Mike is a retired mental health professional after working in the public mental health system and in private industry.
Mental Wellness Center Family Advocate and NAMI Staff Support. Ramona is serving her second tour of duty on the Wellness Center staff as Family Advocate and NAMI staff support, is herself a family member of an individual living with a mental health disorder and has extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of local mental health services/resources and how mental health disorders impact all family members.